A family-run caravan park along the Lincolnshire coast is keeping the true tradition of caravanning alive as the industry celebrates its 100th anniversary.
You won’t find the latest trend of wooden lodges scattering the award-winning Holivans in Mablethorpe - instead spacious, modern caravans with all the homely touches that have made memories for generations, right down to a bucket and spade for the kids.
Holivans, just three-quarters of a mile from the town centre along Quebec Road, has recently become the first to receive 4*s in a new Rest Assured award scheme for caravan parks with statics and tourers launched by the Skegness, East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association (SECWHA).
“We have waited a long time for this award to become available,” said Gareth Rowland, the third generation owner of Holivans and Lincolnshire director of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association.
“We like to support ‘local’ where possible and this award is good value but is still something our visitors can trust. It means a lot for us to receive the certificate for both our static and touring offer.”
1919 saw the first car-towed caravan enter commercial production here in the UK.
We are delighted to be launching the latest addition to our successful Rest Assured grading scheme with Touring and Camping assessments now availableJune Howard, Business Development Manager
Caravans were first seen along the coast in the 20s and 30s, when visitors pitched them “in the sand dunes and all over the place”.
Holivans began with a few caravans in a cow field in 1951 and from then on the popularity of the caravan park “just ballooned”.
Fortunately surviving the 1953 floods, the park grew and the building - now the reception and houses the laundrette, showers, toilets, accessories shop and bar - was built in 1964.
“My father was an engineer and surveyor and the building was very modern in 1964 and so it has stood the test of time,” said Gareth.
There are 160 static caravans on the site - including dog friendly ones with dog bowls and treats hidden away as a surprise for the furry visitors.
All visitors receive complementary tea and coffee so they can make a cuppa when they arrive and there are lots of homely touches in the caravans, such as tea towels, oven gloves, cling film for the sarnies on the beach and, most importantly, bedding.
Additionally, the visitors’ book has plenty of useful local information for visitors and there is an envelope stuffed with ample takeaway leaflets for those who don’t want to cook.
Outside, caravans have a barbecue for the summer months and a useful storage box includes seating and windbreaks, as well as space for pushchairs.
“We try to think of everything to make the caravanning experience one that will make memories,” said Gareth. “We are now getting the grandchildren of visitors who came here when we started and that is why we focus on the traditional caravanning holiday - we know our customers want to share the memories they had.”
Some changes they haven’t been able to avoid, though, with bookings and payments now mostly made online.
Gareth’s daughter, Kelly, is a fourth generation family member in the business and can usually be found in the office these days.
“I used to have more time for grounds stuff but now I spend most of each day in front of the computer, doing social media as well as keeping up to pace with all the health and safety regulations.
“I love coming up with the little touches that make it a home from home, though - including hiding the treats in the vans for the dogs.
”It has really been nice that our work has earned us 4*s in the Rest Assured scheme and that our customers have that confidence that we are worth visiting.”
SECWHA are equally delighted to make Holivans the first caravan park to receive the accreditation.
June Howard, Business Development Manager, said: “We are delighted to be launching the latest addition to our successful Rest Assured grading scheme with Touring and Camping assessments now available.”
“Rest Assured helps visitors choose quality accommodation that suits their needs. It also offers businesses a more affordable alternative to national schemes without compromising on quality, and the Star rating system is instantly recognised and identified. An independent professional assessment helps visitors choose where to stay based on what is important-no matter what type of accommodation.”
In addition to Rest Assured, Holivans has also received the David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award with its sunken garden and wildlflower areas, while also promoting the countryside with suggested walks for visitors.
It also has sights on going for an In Bloom award this year.
Gareth said: “The weather hasn’t been with us but plants are starting to come through now.
“It’s going to look lovely.”